For Project Management – BrightWork on SharePoint or Microsoft Project Server?

Eamonn McGuinness
By | Updated February 11, 2020 | 4 min read
Microsoft Project Server

Project teams often ask if they should manage their projects on SharePoint with a plug-in like BrightWork, Microsoft Project Server, or Project for the web

Of course, the answer is – “it depends”.  In certain scenarios, you can and may need to use both platforms.  In fact, as organizations mature their work, project, and portfolio management, we see the latter scenario as more usual.

It is also important to point out that BrightWork is a partner with Microsoft’s PPM and Application Developer competencies.

For that reason, we are not comfortable competing with Microsoft Project Server/Project for the web, and see no benefits to our customers to do so. To compete would imply we are a real alternative ‘either/or’ choice, which is not the case.

The next question is often: “What are the main product differences between BrightWork for SharePoint, Microsoft Project Server, and Project for the web?”


BrightWork and Microsoft Project Server

At BrightWork, we believe Project Server/ Project for the web is a great product. It is ideal for highly structured projects with rigorous project management processes.

All projects in Project Server need to be structured and have a Microsoft Project plan.

Microsoft Project Server provides the following three extras over BrightWork:

  • Enterprise Resource Levelling and Costing.
  • Inter-project dependencies.
  • Visual Portfolio Optimization.


However, Microsoft Project Server is not designed or intended for a mix of:

  • Smaller, less formal projects (that may have no or very few tasks).
  • Medium sized projects (that may not have a Work Breakdown Structure).
  • Larger projects (with or without Microsoft plans).
  • Non-project-work (e.g. support requests, tasks, etc.).



BrightWork serves these needs. Think of Project Server/ Project for the web as “everything is very structured” and BrightWork as a “a mix of structured and unstructured”.

BrightWork and Microsoft Project Server do work well together.

Thanks to the bi-directional sync between SharePoint and Microsoft Project Professional, project managers can update the project schedule in BrightWork and see the results in Project Server and vice versa.

When a team member updates a task in BrightWork, the information is synced with Microsoft Project Server– without the need for additional, expensive licenses.

The Project Structured Template in BrightWork provides an Enhanced Microsoft Project Schedule Sync. This capability allows project managers to sync extra auto-calculated information into SharePoint such as baselines and variances for work, effort, and cost.

The table below provides more details on the commonalities and differences between BrightWork and Microsoft Project Server.

BrightWork and Microsoft Project Server Comparison Table

Feature BrightWork MS Project Server
Immediate Start 
Web-based project management 
Tasks, Documents, Risk, Issues, etc.
Microsoft Office Integration
Microsoft SharePoint Integration
Cost to implement Low High
Template Delivery Mechanism  SharePoint Project Templates Included Build your own with Microsoft Project Files
Refresh from Central Template   Automated Manual
Project and Portfolio Reporting Mechanism BrightWork Dashboards and Charts on SharePoint SQL Reporting Services
Personal Dashboard Reporting End User Configurable SQL Reporting Services
Project Types Supported Loose, Semi, and Structured Structured
Microsoft Project Professional Desktop Integration Optional Recommended
Project Management Maturity Level Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Advanced
Underlying Microsoft Platforms Deployed Microsoft SharePoint Foundation, Server, or Enterprise Versions SharePoint Enterprise Server and Microsoft Project Server
Deployment  Smaller Effort Larger Effort
Enterprise Timesheet Capability Available as Add-on Included
Graphical Portfolio Optimization Basic Version available Included
Auto Calculate Inter-Project Dependencies Requires Customization Included
Enterprise Resource Levelling & Management Basic version available Included


Watch the BrightWork Demo

If you’d like to learn more about the BrightWork PPM solution for SharePoint On-Premises (server editions of SharePoint 2019, 2016, 2013), take a look at our free video demo.

In just 20 minutes, you’ll see how BrightWork will help you to:

  • Manage Projects with flexible templates, automated reporting, and collaborative team sites.
  • Control Portfolios with project request management, real-time portfolio dashboards, and resource allocation.
  • Leverage SharePoint with secure, scalable deployment in your existing environment. 


Image credit 

Eamonn McGuinness
Eamonn McGuinness

Éamonn McGuinness is the CEO and founder of BrightWork. From 1995, Éamonn has been involved in the development of commercial software products on Lotus Notes, Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365, with the same basic product mission (process-driven and people inspired collaborative project management).

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